Race Co-Survivor Chair
This year, Brian Kuritzky is serving as Co-Survivor Chair of the 2012 Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure. Since 2008, Kuritzky has been using sports to raise money in honor of the memory of his adored mother, Janice, who died when he was only 15.
At 13, Kuritzky found out his mother had breast cancer. The next year, he learned her disease was terminal. It was not until he turned 18 that he discovered the real truth – his mother had been diagnosed when he was 10.
“My brother, sister and I were shattered by our mother’s battle with breast cancer. We watched her physically and mentally deteriorate in front of our eyes,” he explained. “She was such a strong person, woman, mother and wife. During her illness she taught full-time and was a devoted wife and loving mother, all while fighting this terrible disease tooth and nail.
“Becoming Race Co-Survivor Chair is another extension of my fundraising efforts,” he said. “My goal is to help spare other mothers and families from going through what mine did.”
While still a teenager, Kuritzky raised money for breast cancer awareness and research by doing various walks in Westchester County. His first fundraising effort for Komen Greater NYC was in 2008 when he raised $11,000 during the New York City Marathon. He replaced a friend who dropped out because of injury only 10 days before the race.
In 2010 – on a dare from his Goldman Sachs co-workers – Kuritzky decided to compete in the Great Floridian Ultra-Distance Triathlon without almost no training. He raised over $300,000, making him the highest individual fundraiser for the Affiliate and third highest fundraiser overall, including corporate sponsors.
Since that time, Kuritzky has sponsored two other events – Ping-Pong for the Cure and Kickin’ It in Pink.
Ping-Pong for the Cure, held annually in February, allows people to enjoy a night of Ping-Pong, pool and foosball for the cause. Last year, the event added a new feature. Attendees could challenge and bet against professional Ping-Pong player Wally Green, choosing what he would use as a paddle. Some options included a cell phone or a plate. Challengers donated a given amount per point, depending on whether Green was playing with a paddle or substitute. Over two years, the event has raised over $20,000 for Komen Greater NYC from entry donations, tournament “bets,” and a silent auction.
Kickin’ It for the Cure, held last fall, was a co-ed soccer tournament (every team was required to have at least two women). Held at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side, each team had to pay $500 to participate. These fees plus food sales and a silent auction brought in $10,000 for Komen Greater NYC. Sponsors included Pelé Sports, which outfitted all the players.
The loss of his mother still drives Kuritzky to do more. “It’s been more that 10 years since my mother died, and I thought I had finally learned how to cope with what happened,” he said.
That was until he attended his brother’s wedding in early August. “ It was an extremely happy, extremely sad day for our family,” he explained. “We were so happy for my brother but devastated that my mother wasn’t there to see it. Part of the coping process was coming to terms with the fact that she would never be there for the big moments in life. But, then, those life moments actually occur, and there’s no coping mechanism to help you deal with it.”
Now, Kuritzky has come up with a new idea for the 2012 Race. It’s an Amazing Race-like challenge that will tie into his and others’ competitive natures, create synergy with and a new audience for the Race, and raise more money for Komen Greater NYC. “Everyone likes and watches The Amazing Race,” he said. “My brother, dad, and sister love it. It’s such a cool concept.”
Endure for the Cure™ will have a separate registration with each team of four members committing to bringing in a minimum of $4,000. “We’re targeting people who have access to a matching gift program or know someone who does,” Kuritzky explained. The event will have 10 to 12 physical and mental challenges – all in Central Park and somehow connected with the Race.
The challenge will take place from 9:00 to 11:00 am with activities occurring on both the east and west sides of the park. “We hope to have 24 teams,” he said. “And as a bonus, every team that completes the fundraising challenge will be eligible to choose their own gifts from the Komen Greater NYC Pledge Prize program.”
When asked why he accepted the Race Co-Survivor Chair role and continues to create events to raise money for Komen Greater NYC, he was very clear.
“In the difficult time just after my mother died, I made two promises to myself,” he stated. “First, I would do everything I possibly could to help find the cures. Plain and simple. Second, I would take care of my sister so that she would never have to worry about the same thing happening to her.
“Those who know me know that when I commit myself to something, I will work stubbornly, faithfully, and tirelessly until I achieve it,” he continued. “I have tried to accept what happened, and I’ll still have moments when I break down. But, I will never accept breast cancer continuing to do to other people what it did to my mother and our family.”
Be part of the action, register for Endure for the Cure.